How North East darts stars are raising the region’s reputation

Written by on 4th October 2023

The rise of darts in the North East of England is well underway with multiple household names from the region playing on national television week in, and week out.  

There are two North East players in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) top 32 namely Chris Dobey and Callan Rydz. Dobey is currently ranked 19th in the order of merit and appeared in the 2023 PDC Premier League following his ‘Masters’ triumph in January – with sixteen-time World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor once labelling Dobey as the “future of darts.” 

Rydz is ranked 29th in the order of merit, a winner of three Players Championships and a quarter-finalist in the 2022 World Darts Championship. 

Both players received invitations to the special “double in” PDC World Grand Prix – where players have to start on the outer ring of the board rather than going for the traditional scoring method from the start.

Other North East throwers such as Ryan Joyce and Keegan Brown are also on the cusp of breaking into the PDC top 32 with Joyce recently reaching the finals of the Players Championship 24. 

Thanks to the popularity of these players, the PDC holding a recurring Premier League date in Newcastle and many opportunities to watch darts on television each week, the region has seen a rapid growth in players with over 50 leagues across several venues. 

Ryan Joyce of England in action during his first-round match at the 2022/23 Cazoo World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace on December 18, 2022, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Pieter Verbeek/BSR Agency)

Spark Sunderland spoke to Scott Hunt, owner of North East Darts Promotions. The organisation gives local tungsten talents the opportunity to test their skills against the likes of Adam Hunt and Ryan Joyce on a weekly basis. 

Speaking about how the darts scene has changed in the past 10 years, Hunt said “I’ve been running North East Darts Promotions for nearly eight years now and used social media to drive more awareness, which in turn helped me create large darts competitions across the region. 

“Darts’ popularity has risen in the last 10 years due to the major tournaments and events being broadcast and the opportunities for people to make a living out of it.” 

He added: “Before my time, North East darts was booming, with only a handful of major competitions, which in turn had all of the best talent competing.

“Now, with the rise of social media and the accessibility for venues to reach many people at the click of a button, multiple events now take place and the entries have dropped, resulting in the standard at these events dropping. 

“Also, with the many opportunities now on offer, players pick and choose which direction or route they want to go down.” 

When asked whether we could see a North East World Champion in the near future, he said “Yes, it will be sooner, rather than later for Chris Dobey.”  

And regarding the general future of darts in the North East, he said: “The landscape could change with the introduction of more beginner and social events, driven by technology and eliminating the financial incentive to play. 

“There are more and more people playing the game now, accelerated by COVID, and they do not know where to start playing in person.

“I feel with the levels of tech in the game and offering accessible, inclusive competitions and events to  juniors, social players and more, we will see more people enjoy the game outside of their homes.” 

Hunt concluded: “All sports in the UK are played for passion when starting out, such as football, golf, cricket, rugby and so on, without the financial rewards like darts. We need to remove this element to bring more players into the game.” 

Dobey, Rydz, Joyce and Brown will all be competing at the 2024 World Darts Championship with the opportunity to take home the £500,000 first prize.  

It is looking increasingly likely that both Dobey and Rydz will be seeded for the tournament, meaning they will enter in the second round, giving the North East the opportunity to once again shine at the biggest darting event of the year. 

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